Living in Hopewell Borough comes with its downtown perks of being walkably close to shops, restaurants, parks, trails, galleries and a theater. Living in Hopewell also comes with some noise — namely the fire siren. More times than I have cared to count, I have read on social media threads or heard complaints in person about the volume and frequency of the noise.
There have been rumors that the siren is “historic” but the real reason for the siren is purely functional. It calls the all-volunteer firefighters to the firehouse located at 4 Columbia Ave. While the firefighters carry pagers to let them know about an emergency call, for any given call, at least two or more firefighters find out about an emergency due to hearing the siren.
“Because we live in a Valley, there is not the best coverage,” said Fire Chief Joe Novak, who has been with the Hopewell Fire Department since high school and whose family has been a part of it for longer than that. “Sometimes, even in the station, our pager doesn’t go off.”
And it isn’t just about coverage. “If I’m in the shower or mowing the lawn, I won’t hear my pager,” one volunteer firefighter said.
Chief Novak shared that he thinks that technology will eventually catch up to allow for reliable coverage in Hopewell Valley. In the meantime, the necessity for firefighters to respond to a call quickly is imperative, with often only 19 minutes to total destruction in new construction, and with 75% of the area without fire hydrants. With the current technology and the siren, the fire truck is on the road in 4-5 minutes.
If you want to help out, the Hopewell Fire Department is always looking for volunteers.
“People think they will have to go out to fires but there’s more that can be done — like administrative functions, event planners, fundraisers,” said Chief Novak, “and daytime is especially hard to cover.” See this link for membership information.